5 Questions with Vincent Isom

Vincent with his daughter, Avari Isom, and wife, Clarisa Isom, at IU Homecoming.
Vincent and Avari at the IMU for the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club Awards Banquet.  

Q: As an IU alum, what led you to return to Indiana University for your professional career? 

A: In deciding between a return to IUB and other offers, I reflected upon my experience at Indiana University as a first-generation college student. I had stayed connected to IU and observed the evolution of services and commitment to diversity. From my experience in professional associations, I gained a greater awareness of the number of resources and opportunities provided to IU students from first generation, low-income, and underrepresented populations. My experience gave me an appreciation for working specifically with these populations and advocating for resources that can help students develop a well-rounded college experience. There was another factor that arrived earlier during the year that I made my decision, and this was my daughter: my wife and I wanted to be closer to our family in Indiana.   

Q: What do you want people to know about the 21st Century Scholars Program? 

A: The first thing is that the state 21st Century Scholars Scholarship Program is one of the most underutilized programs in the state. Anyone who meets the economic guidelines can sign up in the 7th or 8th grade—but if students miss the middle school application period, they unfortunately miss out on the program, which offers specific supporting programming throughout each year of high school. We all need to get the word out to community, friends, and family that a tuition scholarship exists for Indiana families with meager incomes or large families based on the cost of attending IU.   

Vince presents to a portion of new IU scholars at the 21st Century Scholars Orientation Conference (Fall 2022).

Q: What do you tell students that you wish you'd known as a student? 

A: Your major doesn’t determine your career. You can pursue almost any career (outside of those that require specialization, such as CPA and the science core, which offer entry into medical fields). You must gain experience and start professional development as you come into the university. Take advantage of the information being offered by a variety of disciplines. A freshman doesn’t always know the wealth of majors being offered and where they may lead.  

Also, studying abroad can be a reality. I would tell students not to confine their dreams to what they think is possible based upon limited exposure or financial means at home. Seek out resources and scholarships to aid in pursuing their goals. 

Q: What do you love about your work? 

A: I love to meet new generations of students and help them navigate the system, learn the nuances that make them unique as a cohort and as individuals, and assist them in getting through experiences that could be perceived as an insurmountable hurdle that could lead them away from IU. We continually provide opportunities to increase exposure and promote a growth mindset while learning from the individual students each year. 

Q: What is your favorite place to spend time on the IU Bloomington campus (or in town)? 

A: My favorite place to spend time on campus is our 300 N. Eagleson office and the IMU. In Bloomington, we have a great selection of restaurants, a comedy club, bands that are homegrown or visiting, libraries, and great campus events. 

IUB 21st Century Scholars Program 

  • Supports outreach to increase awareness among Indiana residents.  
  • Provides parents and students with guidance on how to prepare for college and what to expect.  
  • Promotes the program’s benefits: IUB 21st Century Scholars receive a four-year 21st Century Scholarship from the state that covers tuition and, if financially eligible, they receive an additional automatic Covenant Scholarship from IU to help cover cost of room and board. 
  • Includes retention-focused academic advising.
  • Create partnerships on and off campus to focus on career preparation.